9th February 2021

# Poisson Log-Normal Distributed Random Numbers

Task at hand: Generate random numbers which follow a lognormal distribution, but this drawing is governed by a Poisson distribution. I.e., the Poisson distribution governs how many lognormal random values are drawn. Input to the program are $$\lambda$$ of the Poisson distribution, modal value and either 95% or 99% percentile of the lognormal distribution.

From Wikipedia's entry on Log-normal distribution we find the formula for the quantile $$q$$ for the $$p$$-percentage of the percentile $$(0<p<1)$$, given mean $$\mu$$ and standard deviation $$\sigma$$:

$$q = \exp\left( \mu + \sqrt{2}\,\sigma\, \hbox{erf}^{-1}(2p-1)\right)$$

and the modal value $$m$$ as

$$m = \exp\left( \mu - \sigma^2 \right).$$

So if $$q$$ and $$m$$ are given, we can compute $$\mu$$ and $$\sigma$$:

$$\mu = \log m + \sigma^2,$$

and $$\sigma$$ is the solution of the quadratic equation:

$$\log q = \log m + \sigma^2 + \sqrt{2}\,\sigma\, \hbox{erf}^{-1}(2p-1),$$

hence

$$\sigma_{1/2} = -{\sqrt{2}\over2}\, \hbox{erf}^{-1}(2p-1) \pm\sqrt{ {1\over2}\left(\hbox{erf}^{-1}(2p-1)\right)^2 - \log(m/q) },$$

or more simple

$$\sigma_{1/2} = -R/2 \pm \sqrt{R^2/4 - \log(m/q) },$$

with

$$R = \sqrt{2}\,\hbox{erf}^{-1}(2p-1).$$

For quantiles 95% and 99% one gets $$R$$ as 1.64485362695147 and 2.32634787404084 respectively. For computing the inverse error function I used erfinv.c from lakshayg.

Actual generation of random numbers according Poisson- and lognormal-distribution is done using GSL. My program is here: gslSoris.c.

Poisson distribution looks like this (from GSL documentation): Lognormal distribution looks like this (from GSL): 